Remarks by Minister Ciaran Cannon, TD
Launch of Irish Aid Annual Report 2016
26th September 2017
It is my pleasure to join Minister Coveney to launch the 2016 Irish Aid Annual report.
I was honoured to be appointed Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development in July, and I look forward to working with many of you here today in the coming years.
I believe we can all be proud of the Irish Aid programme, and the results the programme achieves, on behalf of the Irish people. Ireland’s development programme has at its heart a focus on the most vulnerable, in particular those in least developed countries.
Like Minister Coveney, I have just returned from the United Nations General Assembly. Our reach and influence is amplified through our engagement with the UN and other multilateral partners.
Our message is a simple one on the multilateral stage reflecting the focus of our aid programme. Ireland advocates for a greater focus and allocation of resources to the most vulnerable. This is where the need is greatest and the potential for impact is strongest.
As Minister Coveney highlighted, the plight of civilians suffering the impacts of natural disasters, or the consequences of conflict and war, is today at levels we could not have imagined only a few short years ago. Over a quarter of Ireland’s development assistance in 2016 was directed towards supporting both refugees and vulnerable host communities.
The Rapid Response Initiative is a central feature of our humanitarian assistance programme. In 2016, Ireland deployed 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies to meet the immediate needs of over 180,000 people. Our rapid responders were deployed in 20 countries last year to boost the capacity of our UN partners’ humanitarian response.
We have been reminded in recent weeks of the importance of solidarity in the face of natural disaster and calamity. Hurricanes Irma and Maria demonstrated not just the need for a humanitarian response but the need to invest in humanitarian resilience.
Sustainable development is required to address the root causes leading to such unprecedented levels of humanitarian need. Ireland is working with communities and governments to build better futures for some of the world’s poorest communities, in particular in our key partner countries but also more widely. Our bilateral aid programme focuses on health, education, agriculture, nutrition and governance interventions.
Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi were the top five recipient countries of Ireland’s bilateral aid in 2016. As highlighted in the report, we saw some remarkable achievements in these countries.
In Ethiopia, Ireland has supported over 70,000 small farmers since 2014 to diversify their income.
In Mozambique, our assistance last year helped over 5,000 households adapt to climate change. The farmer field school programme we supported taught smallholder farmers new farming techniques and we introduced drought resistant crops at a time when Mozambique was experiencing a severe drought.
In Tanzania, Ireland is working with smallholder farmers by supporting improvements in the agriculture value chain. This initiative has increased the income of almost 140,000 smallholder farmers and created more than 10,000 jobs through the production of sunflower oil and sesame seeds for the export market.
In Uganda, Ireland has supported the building and management of a national social protection system. This gives people modest payments that are transforming their lives. In 2016, a social protection programme for senior citizens was rolled out reaching almost 150,000 people.
In Malawi, Ireland is working to improve nutrition through rolling out new seed crop varieties. We have seen remarkable progress over the last five years in Malawi where stunting in children under 5 has dropped by 10%.
Ireland’s assistance to poverty reduction and development extends beyond our key partner countries thanks to the work of many of the people in this room. 23% of Ireland’s total development assistance was channelled through civil society organisations in 2016.
You work in communities where access to services that we in Ireland take for granted is often weak or inadequate. Your strength is your local connection to, and advocacy for, these communities, coupled with your investment of both money and expertise.
Ireland’s relationship with Africa – and beyond – often began with the work of
Irish missionary organisations. Irish Aid continues to support their work through Misean Cara. I am conscious too that many of the civil society organisations Ireland supports have their origins in people first exposed to global poverty by missionaries.
At home, Irish Aid works with many partners here today in the delivery of development education to young people. They are the generation that will deliver on the promise of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in 2015. In 2016, Irish Aid launched a new Development Education Strategy. Our ambition is to see quality development education brought to as many young people as possible in a range of education settings from classrooms to university campuses, and from youth clubs to community groups.
In closing, I would like to pay tribute to those staff working for Irish Aid and your organisations whose work is represented by the Report. It is a snapshot of their daily commitment to reducing poverty. Working together, a real difference is made to people’s lives. I look forward to working with you all to ensure that Irish Aid continues to deliver results that we can be all proud of.